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Another Layman's Guide to Spiritual Survival

Another Layman's Guide to Spiritual Survival

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Another Layman's Guide to Spiritual Survival

Lunghezza:
200 pagine
3 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 2, 2015
ISBN:
9781329528888
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

A continuing exploration of topics and subject matter concerning Christians and their interaction with the world as it is, today. As in the author's first book, a common-sense approach is employed demonstrating a practical application of Christian principles for those who remain undecided about their spiritual beliefs. The principles of Christian behavior and outlook are emphasized, rather than the more widely followed step-by-step cookbook approach. This second book of the series provides an engaging narrative, in conversational style, for each subject covered.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Sep 2, 2015
ISBN:
9781329528888
Formato:
Libro

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Another Layman's Guide to Spiritual Survival - Bruce Warnock

Another Layman's Guide to Spiritual Survival

Another Layman's Guide to Spiritual Survival

Copyright © 2015 by Bruce G. Warnock

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

First Printing: 2015

ISBN 978-1-329-52888-8

233 NE 13th Ave.

     Cape Coral, FL 33909

bgwarnock@comcast.net

Preface

The purpose of this book is an attempt to restore some common sense to what has become an increasingly shunned subject – Christianity.

The supporting story of Christian belief has 'evolved' over the years, depending upon what time frame and what geographic area one lives in.  But, the basic message of Christianity is still the same:  There is one way to get to Heaven and that is through trust in Jesus Christ.  What has changed is the portrayal of proper understanding, and it has generally moved in a less easily understood direction.  This is an inevitability considering the increasingly technological world in which we live.  Rightly or wrongly, divine magic is not as acceptable is it once was.  Also, the tipping of the scales of popular thinking toward liberalism has encouraged the general population to discard traditional belief systems in favor of new progressive models that, unfortunately, are not clearly defined.  The lack of definition of these new models demonstrates a certain level of hollowness and insufficiency in their ability to further human spiritual fulfillment.  One can only hope and pray that the society in which we live will be like the prodigal son and return home with a greater understanding and appreciation for what was abandoned.  Unfortunately, when one looks at the state of the world, and its ballistic trajectory, one has to wonder whether a 'soft landing' is even a possibility.  Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and one must try to talk the world in off the window ledge even if the expectation is rather grim.

For these reasons, familiar subjects are addressed but, hopefully, in a more clarifying manner than is available from some of the more traditional sources of spiritual guidance. 

Christian faith is a personal thing.  One size does not fit all, just like clothing does not fit everyone the same.  There are certain parameters that must be met for a garment to even be qualified.  A shirt must accommodate the normal number of arms and necks, and a pair of pants will require provision for two legs, not three or more.  Likewise, certain conditions must exist within the individual before they can, justifiably, be considered a Christian.  Again, like clothing, while one ballet slipper and one army boot may qualify as shoes, because they cover and protect the feet, some understandings of the Christian role are more comfortable or functional than others.

When discussing items of 'secondary' importance ('primary' importance is summed up in John 3:16), scenarios are presented which are intended to clarify the meaning rather than to simply repeat the words and/or phrases that are used so often.  As an example: the word 'belief' or 'trust' is used here, rather than 'faith' simply and entirely because 'faith' has been overused.  Evidence: 'a person of faith' points to a Christian and all the preconceptions the listener may have concerning Christians.  You don't hear the term 'a person of trust' or 'a person of belief' because then people wouldn't know what type of individual was being referenced.  They are harder to 'pigeon-hole'.  Also, by using a term such as 'a person of faith' the speaker doesn't have to be clear about what type of faith he or she means.  This allows for assumptions that may not be appropriate to enter a concept or discussion much like a line item might be included in a bill working its way through Congress.

It should be understood by the reader, however, that this is not an attempt to undermine any of the core messages of Christian truth.  The supreme authority of the Universe is God, the only way to meet God on friendly terms is through Jesus Christ and the total acceptance of Jesus as one's personal defense attorney is through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The hope is that people will realize that Christianity is not just for doddering old people that have nothing else to hope for.  The hope is also that, by presenting things in a way that is different from the 'established' ways, people will see that Christianity makes sense and is applicable to their lives.  The final hope is that some people will read this, reevaluate their lives and repent, accept the promise of Jesus, and live.

New Age Antique

Discussing people's religious beliefs exposes a lot of, well, really stupid ideas.  Often, these are some sort of amalgam of statements that do not form any sort of coherent picture.  These statements usually fall into the category of 'it sounds good...' and that's about where their value ends.  The following is an example taken from a real conversation:

A: What do you think happens after you die?

B: Well, your energy just sort of floats off into space.  Since it can't be created or destroyed, it has to go somewhere, right?  Once it gets there, it reforms and comes back and you are reborn in a new body to work out the issues you still had when you died.

Notice that there is a bit of Newtonian physics, a little bit of Karmic rebirth, some Buddhist reincarnation and a vague notion of right and wrong.  Also, notice that this 'energy' is undefined, it goes to an undefined place, it arrives at this undefined place at some undefined time, is judged in some undefined way and then returned to another undefined place in some undefined manner to resolve undefined issues by an undefined method in an undefined body.

A: Who, or what, do you think Jesus was?

B: Well, I'm sure, if he existed, he was a really nice guy that walked around and talked to a lot of people.  He must have been really smart because he is supposed to have said some really important things.  Then, they killed him for it.

This person apparently has no idea of the contents of anything Jesus ever said, no awareness of the  resurrection and is not even sure if Jesus was a real person.  Yet, obviously, they think they have more than enough information to make a serious, critical assessment of the value of Christian beliefs in their life.

A: Do you think there's any such thing as Heaven?

B: Sure, I think there's a Heaven.

A: How do you think you can get to Heaven?  Or, at least have a pleasant afterlife?

B: I don't see why I wouldn't.  I'm nice to people.  Even people I don't know.  I think God knows that and he'll let me in.

A: That's not what Christ said.

B: But, that's what I believe.  And, if I believe it, then that's my religion and that's the way it works for me.

A: It doesn't work that way.  You don't just make up some situation that sounds nice to you and it suddenly becomes the real thing.  Try that with the IRS.

B: "And, that's your religion."

At this point in the conversation, it becomes apparent that the doors have been closed, the drawbridge raised and the portcullis dropped.  This person is not interested in learning more, or even hearing about anything that is going to cause a tremor in their life-bubble.  More attempts to explain will be met with stony resistance.

This phenomenon is nothing new.  Jesus talked about it, Paul talked about it, even atheists have, and continue, to talk about it.  For the person reflecting this sort of muddled, incoherent, self-contradictory and blurry world view, though, it feels courageous and original: like bold, nonconformist, anti-establishment trail-blazing.  They wouldn't say that because that would be much too obvious, but that's the way they perceive themselves.

While this sounds like something a teenager would say, it is not limited to those under 25.  In fact, if one looks at the popular media, politics and new-age secular humanism, one sees an alarming amount of similar thinking.  Alarming, because this is what young people are taught to believe.  If you care about people, even teenagers, you don't want them believing all that fluff because it's simply not true.  Even if Jesus didn't exist, and never had, that sort of thinking is pretty much guaranteed to make sure the person believing it is going nowhere important.

This is part of the problem our society faces.  Western culture has allowed this type of fuzzy thinking to creep in and displace serious inquiry and the exploration of ideas.  When truth is replaced by opinion, especially in public education, and only one side of a debate is presented as the complete picture, we are doing a disservice to our fellow citizens.  More than that, we may be deliberately withholding information, or disguising and spreading false information that will jeopardize their lives both now and in the future.

While it is good to question conventional wisdom, it should be done properly.  There is a reason that the wisdom of the ages has been retained – it works.  Human nature has not changed since biblical times.  What is being taught, now, is to discard the old, then find the new, rather than to examine the new before discarding the old.  That is like telling someone to jump off a cliff then explore the logical consequences instead of thinking about it first.  Of course, doing it that way would be using conventional wisdom, wouldn't it?

The predictable results of this is what we see more and more in the news.  People are wandering around the world like ships without rudders and this provides a very fertile ground for even more confusion to be sown.  Moral relativity, where something is only judged good or bad based upon everything else around it, is a good example of a rudderless ship.  Without a solid grasp of reality, anything can be promoted as right or wrong, good or bad, worthy or unworthy depending on what the promoter wants.  And, the believers of moral relativity are the victims of their own ignorance that can be led anywhere their handlers want them to be.

Jesus talked about this in Matthew 7:24-27 when he compared belief to building a house.  Those with solid faith are like a man building a house upon a rock where, when the storms came, the house stood firm.  But, the man whose faith is weak is like a man who builds his house upon the sand, so, when the storms came, his house was washed away.  Without a firm faith, based upon a solid understanding of the Bible, and a drive for excellence in belief, thoughts and actions, one is betting the security of one's life here and hereafter on shifting sand.

How Christianity Is Different

People scoff at Christianity because they think they are smarter than that.  After all, just like every other garden-variety religion, those fools that believe all that stuff about resurrection claim Christianity is different, right?  Wrong.  There are major differences between what Christ taught (the basis for Christianity) and what the other religions teach.  (A distinction must be made, for technical reasons, between what Christ taught and Christianity.  Jesus taught how to survive physical death – Christianity teaches what Jesus said, where, when, what the context was, the results, etc.  Christ was the rescuer – Christianity is the practice of revering of the rescuer.)

First, there is the common sense aspect.  Christ taught that all have sinned.  One has only to look at their own life to realize that truth.  Each of us has a past containing episodes, thoughts and actions that we are not proud of.  Those are the things we don't want to be publicly known.  Not a one of us can look at all the things we've done and say that there is no stain on our lives and we are perfect.  Even if we could claim that, it would be negated by the simple fact that we think we're perfect.

Of course, how we define 'perfect' makes a big difference.  What God requires and what man requires are two very different things.  Man might be willing to overlook some minor flaws in personality or history, but God isn't going to do that.  Why should he?  Common sense, again.  Would one invite another to live in their home if they knew that other was a thief?  Or, a slob?  Or, might come in the middle of the night with a knife?  Probably not.  We choose who we want to associate with and we choose whom we invite into our home.  (We might invite an attractive member of the opposite sex into our home for a while, without looking too deeply at their character, but that has a completely different motivation such as eye candy).  God doesn't need us and He doesn't have to accept less than He has specified.

There is also the falsifiability aspect of Christianity that isn't shared by the other religions.  What that means, is that there is supporting evidence beyond what someone says.  If a person claims to have met God, who can argue with that?  If that person claims that God told them to [fill in the blank], no one can say, No, he didn't.  It's their word against everything else in the world.  They might be right, but there's no way to prove, or even indicate, that what they claim is true, actually is true.  Christianity names people, gives dates and provides locations for its claims.  There were witnesses, sometimes thousands of people, that support what it says.  There are official records of some of the events.  In short, it is the only major religion, besides Judaism, that can confidently say Look it up.

Then, there are the prophecies.  The prophets of Judaism and Christianity were required to be accurate.  False prophets were dealt with by having their life status changed to 'dead'.  As a result of this harsh penalty for poor performance, and, sometimes for excellent performance, being a prophet was not considered a good career move.  Those people didn't do what they did because they wanted a life of fame and fortune.  The truth hurts, sometimes terminally, and people don't always welcome a guiding hand.  It was in the prophets' best interests to keep to the revealed facts and not try to embellish the story with personal opinion.  And, perhaps, if we imposed the same standards on today's reporters, we would see a different world.

But, those prophets were telling what was revealed to them.  And, what was revealed was not only unwelcome and confusing at times, but, also, accurate.  When God says something is going to happen, and one of his prophets reports that, impossible as it might seem to the listener, it will happen.  Usually, it is so unanticipated that it is not clear before it happens.  After all, if it were logically predictable, we wouldn't need a prophet to tell us.  What is perfectly clear, regardless of how much we feeble humans understand, is that God knows what is going to happen.  That means He is in control of events, even if we like to think otherwise.

The absolute biggest difference between Christianity and all the other religions, though, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That is also probably the biggest underlying reason so many reject the story.  This is understandable, but only if the unbeliever assumes they have all the facts. 

People don't resurrect.  There are good, scientific and medical reasons why they don't.  Life can't be sustained after a certain, fairly short, amount of circulatory neglect.  The body starts to decay immediately, and after three days, would be irretrievably unsuitable.  You can't leave meat out on a counter for three days and expect it to be less than toxic.  Internal organs are worse.  Without going into a graphic and revolting description of every detail of physical decomposition, let it suffice to say that a body that's been dead three days, in a warm environment like the Middle East, is very unlikely to

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